[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
October 2004


Verity Audio factory tour?

October 27, 2004


Any possibility that SoundStage! may do a tour of the Verity Audio facilities? I am a very happy owner of the Verity Audio Parsifal speaker and would like see how it's made.

Keep up the good work!

George Chen

We have discussed this, along with a review of the Parsifal Encore that includes measurements, but nothing has been planned yet. We will keep expressing our interest....Marc Mickelson

Counterfeit cables

October 22, 2004


I had just purchased Siltech cables on eBay minutes before reading your article on counterfeit cables ["Counterfeit Audio Products Showing Up Online"]. I was able to contact Siltech, obtain a response from them within 12 hours, and confirm that my newly purchased cables were fakes. I since have gotten the seller and eBay to cancel the sale. I have also pressured eBay into ending the posts of the seller's other five sets of cables.


William Lawhorn

MMGs or MMG Ws?

October 19, 2004

To Wes Phillips,

I just read your review of the Magnepan MMG W speakers and wanted to ask you a question. I currently own a pair of MMG speakers and was wondering if the MMG Ws are as good as the MMGs (bass aside)? I would love to get my speakers off the floor and on the wall and wanted to know if I can accomplish this through going to MMG Ws and still have great sound. (I am strictly talking stereo here; I have a Unison Research Unico integrated amp and REL Q108 sub).

Andrew Taylor

I don't really have as much time in on the MMGs, but I think they have more active panel area and more bottom end. Also, because they aren't designed for near-boundary placement, the trade you receive for their occupation of square footage is that they have more depth and holographic soundstage deployment -- both areas where your Unico probably excels.

With a REL subwoofer, you sound as though you're pretty ideally set for bottom-end extension if you choose the MMG Ws.

Of course, your ultimate choice will probably depend on how badly you want to regain the floor space, but in a head-to-head comparison with no consideration given for placement benefits, I think pretty much anyone would opt for the MMGs....Wes Phillips

Which Esoteric?

October 18, 2004


I have read with interest your numerous reviews on SoundStage! As it so happens I have some of the equipment that you use in your reviews, and I have had interest in at one time or another many of the items that you have reviewed.

I have recently been able to upgrade my stereo system for the first time in probably 15 years. I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain a pair of Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 7s at half price, and have augmented them with a BAT VK-300x SE integrated amplifier with the 6H30 tunes in the preamp. I still have not upgraded the wiring -- I will tend to that over time. However, my most pressing need is an update to my CD/SACD player, and that is the purpose of this e-mail. I currently have an old Sony DVP-7700 CD/DVD player and a Sony 685 SACD player that I am using for my digital front-end. I have an endless number of CDs of various genres (rock, classical, jazz, more rock) and have just begun to build an SACD collection as well.

I have read your reviews of the various Esoteric models -- in particular the DV-50, X-01, and your brief mention of the UX-1. I was originally going to purchase the DV-50, but now newer models have been introduced, and I would like to make this a purchase that will last quite some time. Do you feel that in my system and given that I listen between quiet/moderate to sometimes loud levels at home, and often not in the "prime" seating area, but wandering the house, doing things, that I will hear a difference between the DV-50 and its more upstream brethren? I am still on the fence as to whether to go with the universal player (i.e., UX-1) or the X-01 dedicated CD/SACD player as my needs are purely audio at this point in time. I don't have to have another DVD player at this point in time, especially given the format changes that will occur over the next few years. However, the thought of having DVD-A capabilities as well is tempting.

Thus, in an attempt to make a long e-mail a wee bit shorter, I am interested in your thoughts as to whether going with the higher-end Esoteric models will provide an even higher level of enjoyment for even casual listening and given my equipment. I realize mileage may vary; however you do have a very similar setup to mine, and thus any thoughts would be quite helpful.

Barr Plexico

I think the question to ask is not "Will I hear a difference between the DV-50 and X-01/UX-1?" but "Will the difference matter to me?" The X-01 and UX-1 sound superior to the DV-50 (now replaced by the sonically identical DV-50S), and you will hear this with your very good equipment, especially if you use both players balanced. I don't mean to imply that the DV-50S is not a very good unit -- quite the contrary. It's a terrific universal A/V player. The X-01 and UX-1, however, are perhaps the best such components you can buy right now. But only you will be able to decide if the difference in sound, which will cost you around $7000, is worth the extra money. If I were in your shoes and could afford any of the players, I would choose the X-01. Both it and the new DV-50S should be available for quite a while....Marc Mickelson

More Amphion, please

October 14, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed your review of the Amphion argon2s, and I was wondering if you had heard the Amphion helium2s?

Tom Farrell

The Amphion argon2 received an excellent review. You called it "an ideal contradiction." After looking at the measurements, I think your comments are not surprising. The Amphions are one of the most accurate speakers I have ever seen measured. These speakers have not been "voiced" for a particular application. I believe many of your readers would appreciate a review of the helium2. The helium2 is even more affordable than the argon2. It would be great to see how much performance is available from the helium2 relative to the argon2. A set of measurements would be a great addition to the review. This speaker would also be great for home-theater use because its impedance is high and it shares the same crossover frequency with other Amphion models.

Henry Jones

I have heard the helium2s at shows, and we've requested a pair from Amphion for review, but they haven't arrived yet. Hopefully we'll have more news for you in the future. Keep checking our "Coming Soon" list....Doug Schneider

Speaker angle versus distance

October 13, 2004

To Jeff Fritz,

Thank you for your article on speaker location ("Surround-Sound Speaker Placement Problems and Solutions"). I have a question that is not answered. I do not have time correction with my Sony XA-777ES. I need to make a choice between rear-speaker angle and distance. In my room, I can achieve the proper distance from the listening position so that front, center, and rears are all the same distance. But, in order to do this, I have to put the rear speakers back at a greater angle than is recommended (about 20 additional degrees). If I get the angle right, the rear speakers are about a foot closer than the fronts (8' versus 7'). Which is more significant to the overall effect on the listening experience, angle or distance? Or should I just sell my '777 and buy the new '9000 that allows for time corrections?

Bob Miller

There is likely to be a greater variance in the sound of your rear speakers if they do not have the proper relationship to the listener (angle) than would be sacrificed with a foot closer placement to your seat. Speakers that are designed for a "window" of placement alternatives might sound absolutely horrible off that axis. Conversely, most listeners, including myself, would be hard-pressed to tell a difference in time arrival between 7' and 8'. Go with the proper listening angle and don't sweat that extra foot....Jeff Fritz

A $1000 system

October 11, 2004


I enjoyed your editorial ["Tools of the Trade," October 2004] about the $25,000 system you would buy. Since I don't know anyone who would spend this amount on a CD player, I imagine your choices are interesting to only a small subset of audiophiles and music lovers. Why not try your hand at $1000. It has to play LP, CD, cassette tape and radio, and the $1000 has to cover everything that must be bought -- except the software. Almost all the musicians I know spent this amount or less. It's close to what I spent. Let's see how you do.

Norm Strong

For $1000, I would choose Paradigm Atom speakers, a TEAC A-1D integrated amp, and a Sony DVP-NS500V CD/SACD/DVD-V player (or similar Sony mulitformat player under $200), which should leave me money for some AudioQuest Sidewinder interconnects and Type 2 speaker cables and perhaps a Paradigm PDR-8 subwoofer.

Because this is my system I'm creating, and I don't play cassettes or listen to the radio (for music at least), I omitted both. If I wanted to play LPs (a good source of cheap music), I'd keep my eyes open at garage sales for a turntable....Marc Mickelson

Using Stello DAC balanced

October 8, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I've just finished reading your enjoyable and informative review of the Stello DA220 DAC. Could you please tell me, did you connect the DAC using the balanced or single-ended outputs? If you tried both, was there any difference in the performance?

P. Blenkinsop

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try both sets of outputs. My system is single-ended only. However, I did read about the balanced versus single-ended connections in the owner's manual, and, unlike some manufacturers who claim superiority of balanced connection versus single-ended based on something specific in the design, April Music (the manufacturer of Stello products) doesn't really say that one should outperform the other with the DA220. Rather, they say to simply try both and choose what works best in your system....Doug Schneider

"Junk Science"

October 7, 2004


I will refrain from a treatise on the junk science of the entire "vibration control" and "resonance coupling" aspect of the high end. It is, like all the voodoo, "accepted truth" of the current high-end firmament, based on nothing but air.

Instead, let me pose it in a manner that will be understandable to the non-technically inclined since vibration "tuning" is dependent on the coincidence of a number of variables, including equipment, structural integrity of the dwelling, room modes, and other completely random physical entities. Doesn't it make perfectly logical sense that any tuning device would just as likely be detrimental as it is effective? Yet in reviewing the 20 or so reviews I could find in my backlog of audiophile rags, I could find no more than one or two where the reviewer found the devices less than satisfactory -- and in none of them did they even question the topic, nor raise my point that simple logic would suggest that at least 10 of those 20 reviews should find that the devices made the system sound worse (not my thinking, just the logical end product of the whole Ponzi scheme).

The notion that these "vibrational experts" somehow get a magical harmonic convergence that blankets the entire resonant community is completely nonsensical.

I submit that the entire concept is, like the "importance" of oxygen-free copper and other high-end fetishes, entirely an issue of disingenuous marketing to the technically gullible. Need I even mention that in controlled, blind listening tests, no one has ever been able to identify a "tuned" CD player from one that sits on the shelf naked? I have taken the time more than once to do the work to set up such a test. Have you folks at SoundStage! ever done it?

And if it indeed had any effect, it would not be able to evade the resolution of an Audio Precision 2. If vibration were creating electrical artifacts in any device, the AP2 could find it -- it has resolution down to the limits of current electrical-noise thresholds, which is the residual thermal noise of the Brownian movement. I defy any manufacturer of such tuning products to submit any evidence that supports their claims, in a manner that could be reproduced by a similarly configured system in an independently reproducible setup. I can hear the sound of one hand clapping.

In my opinion, these tweak products are reducing the high-end from the pursuit of music to trivial pursuit. Get back on the wagon, audiophiles, and invest where it counts: source material, speakers, and taming gross listening-room deficiencies. It will make you happy, I promise.

Glenn O. Strauss

I think you lump all products that aim at controlling resonance/vibration and all uses of those products together. In my recent Harmonic Resolution Systems reviews, I used the various HRS products with a CD transport, which generates its own vibration. I also mention that the HRS products should be more effective with turntables, which, it's not hard to understand, are affected to a great degree by unwanted vibration. I've used various tube dampers on the market that have eliminated microphonics from preamps. What the instances I have mentioned have in common is that they produce, to me and others, effects that are audible. As audible as a different set of speakers? No. But something we can hear.

I'm not sure from where you get the idea that half of all vibration/resonance-control products should produce unsatisfactory results. The law of averages? If all such products damp vibration and resonance, they should all sound either better or worse, no? I agree that if you use, say, things you can find in your kitchen, products not designed to damp resonance and vibration, you should expect unsatisfactory results. They are not made with sonic uses in mind. But if something is made to have a certain effect, and someone hears that it does, why should the law of averages deem a similar product as ineffective?

I don't think that products from HRS, Silent Running and other companies perform "magic." I do think that with some audio equipment, mainly those with moving parts and tubes, these products can help produce better sound -- at a cost. I agree that audiophiles are wise to spend their money on better-sounding recordings, better speakers, and working with their rooms. But after they've done all that, there are still things that can be done to improve the sound of their systems. Whether they choose to pursue such products is their choice. I have reported what I heard....Marc Mickelson

Comparison of pro DACs?

October 6, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

You have provided some very interesting reading lately on the subject of portable DACs from the professional-audio world, namely the Benchmark Media and Apogee products. However, the audio press seems almost devoutly avoiding direct comparisons of the two, which seems somewhat strange considering that they are very similar products at nearly the same price point and both are receiving positive reviews. Any chance that the might give us your views on how they compare to each other?

Terry Aben

Comparisons have long been part of our review process, so "devoutly avoiding" comparing the two is something that hasn't deliberately happened here. In fact, you can read in my Benchmark Media DAC1 review that I put the DAC1 up against the Stello DA200 -- another formidable competitor in the kilobuck price range. What does happen, though, is that reviewers are only exposed to so much equipment, and it's just not possible to have everything in one place at one time, let alone compare everything on hand to everything else. That said, will the Benchmark Media and Apogee units tussle? Unfortunately, not likely here because the Apogee unit has already been shipped back, and now that the Benchmark Media DAC1 review is online, that one is scheduled to be returned, too. Sorry....Doug Schneider

Symposium, please

October 4, 2004


Thanks for the review of the Harmonic Resolution Systems M3 platform. I am a big fan of Peter Bizlewicz's Symposium products -- I started using one of his Super prototypes nearly 15 years ago and now I have an Ultra under my Meridian 588 CD player, a Super under my preamp, and that dated prototype under my amp. Rollerblocks are also employed under the source and preamp -- I even have Ultras under my speakers. So, you can conclude that I like Peter's products. It seems to me that you guys did a write-up on either the Ultra or Rollerblocks some time back. Naturally, I'd love to see a comparison between the HRS M3 and the Ultra, and this interest was piqued by Andy Singer's ad in this month's Stereophile [picturing the HRS M1R rack]. That is one sweet-looking rack -- and, oh my gawd, what if it works? Any chance of a shootout between the HRS and Symposium products?

Blaine Beveridge

As we often do when readers ask us to review a certain product, we'll contact Symposium and see what we can arrange....Marc Mickelson


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